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Paul Hemmings

Viewing music through a wide-angle lens, Paul Hemmings utilizes the unassuming ukulele to fuse together elements of modern jazz, free improvisation, and American roots music into a signature sound that has been called “bold, beautiful, and full of promise.” He has released six albums on Leading Tone Records, including outings with his ukulele-fronted jazz trio, The Paul Hemmings Uketet, and critically acclaimed recordings with saxophonists John Tchicai and Eric Alexander. His proclivity for crossing musical boundaries led All About Jazz to write, “Hemmings’ mixture of cultures, influences, and genres, exploring the edges of harmony and rhythm, is remarkably fresh and a complete success.”

Based in New York City, Paul performs regularly as leader of The Paul Hemmings Uketet, the dynamic ukulele-bass-drum team he uses to interpret his own original compositions and renditions of modern standards. The group’s latest album, The Blues And The Abstract Uke, is a collection of aural snapshots that focus on the breadth of American blues music through the unique filter of the jazz ukulele trio. Along with Paul on ukulele, the album features Gaku Takanashi on bass and Rudy Royston on drums, in addition to special guests Greg Tardy on tenor saxophone and Curtis Fowlkes on trombone.

Introducing…The Paul Hemmings Uketet, the trio’s aptly named debut, was released in 2012 and features idiosyncratic renditions of a wide cross-section of twentieth-century music, from Thelonious Monk and Antonio-Carlos Jobim to Bob Marley and The Beatles, alongside a handful of Hemmings' original compositions. The album was met with widespread critical acclaim and continues to enjoy airplay on several public radio stations around the country.

In the wake of his first album with The Uketet, Paul has become a familiar face on the burgeoning ukulele festival circuit. With appearances at the Cairns Ukulele Festival in Australia, the New York Ukulele Festival, the Centrum Ukulele Festival in Port Townsend, WA, and many others, Paul has garnered a reputation not only for his compelling performances but also for his accessible workshops. By presenting technically in-depth material in an approachable manner, he has cemented a reputation as the “mad professor” of ukulele instruction. Paul is currently toiling away on a series of books and video tutorials for ukulele players of all stripes.

Playing the part of music educator is a role that Paul has been enjoying for well over a decade. Since 2001, he has been teaching students of all ages at the Third Street Music School Settlement in New York City, the nation’s oldest community music school. He has also held adjunct positions at Marymount Manhattan College, the National Guitar Workshop, the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, and the California Coast Music Camp, among others. Paul also holds a degree from the acclaimed Jazz Performance program at the New School University in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.

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199
Album Review

Paul Hemmings Trio with John Tchicai: Letter From America

Read "Letter From America" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan


The Paul Hemmings Trio with saxophonist John Tchicai mixes some styles around on Letter From American, and still comes up with a cohesive set of sounds.“Under a New Mexico Sky" opens the disc with a sludgy rhythm behind John Tchicai's raw, loud saxophone. It sounds like Led Zeppelin, circa 1969, especially when guitarist Hemmings roars in like an amplified band saw. Tchicai is normally tagged as an avant-garde guy who played on an early avant blast--John ...

310
Album Review

The Paul Hemmings Trio with John Tchicai: Letter From America

Read "Letter From America" reviewed by Jerry D'Souza


When guitarist Paul Hemmings says that he views jazz through a wide angle lens, he is not making an idle boast. He shows just how adventurous a composer he is on this recording, his third as leader. It goes past his two previous recordings--In and Out (Leading Tone, 2003), which had a strong mainstream approach, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Live!) (Leading Tone, 2006), which was a reworking of The Beatles' album recorded in concert.

Hemmings ...

246
Album Review

Paul Hemmings: Letter from America

Read "Letter from America" reviewed by Andrey Henkin


It is often necessary to do a cost-benefit analysis when including a “name" on a jazz recording. Will the added recognition be offset either by a lackluster performance that seems purely mercenary or a star shining that much brighter than those around them, creating unevenness? One imagines that guitarist Paul Hemmings has made this analysis several times already over the course of his short career. His first album featured saxophonist Eric Alexander; his second was a frankly ...

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"Bravely original...Hemmings' mixture of cultures, influences, and genres exploring the edges of harmony and rhythm is remarkably fresh and a complete success. Hemmings is pushing the boundaries of convention and structure, seducing jazz's modern temper and molding his very own profound form and style in the process. Letter From America is certain to be one of the year's best albums."

- Peter Sanchez, All About Jazz, Los Angeles

"[Letter From America], a collaboration between guitarist Paul Hemmings and avant-garde saxophonist John Tchicai, is a curious amalgam, contrasting amorphous freejazz with the pounding beat of surf rock, or mixing whispered dialogues with intense tugs-of-war and happy little grooves. The underlying theme here is elusive, although geographic song titles suggest something relating to American diversity. What is clear is the rapport between the two leaders, who whirl about each other furiously at one moment and kick back into a soulful conversation in the next."

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Blues and the...

Leading Tone Records
2015

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Introducing...The...

Leading Tone Records
2012

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Standards, Vol. 1

Leading Tone Records
2010

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Letter from America

Leading Tone Records
2008

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Sgt. Pepper's Lonely...

Leading Tone Records
2006

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In & Out

Leading Tone Records
2003

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